In our work of professional cuddling, we have the privilege of teaching the world about intimacy in the platonic realm. This is completely eye-opening and life changing for many. Our talented colleague, Tate recently expounded on this, and graciously gave us permission to share their writing with you.
The Difference Between Sex & Intimacy
by Tate Ashley
I recently had a couple of sessions with someone I would categorize as an ideal candidate for platonic touch therapy. He is a highly intellectual internet mogul, who expressed a desire to feel more emotionally and sexually free. We talked about his history with sexual/romantic relationships, and the seeming complete lack of platonic touch and affection in his life.
After about 15 minutes spent in a warm embrace, he started to narrate the emotional experience he was having, and the revelations that came to him through our work.
“I think I’ve confused sex and intimacy my whole life. I’ve always been afraid to get close to people, because I always thought I had this uncontrollable sex drive and that any physical contact would inevitably end in sex.”
There are a lot of people I have had sex with who I really only wanted to cuddle with.
According to NVC (Non-Violent Communication), there are baseline needs of every human, ranging from shelter and food, to emotional and intellectual autonomy. Both sexual expression (even if that expression is asexuality!) and platonic affection are needs. The thing is, though, these needs are separate, when in our culture they are often conflated, or worse seen as synonymous.
Our need for sexual expression is a byproduct of our genes’ “desire” to replicate. We are driven to procreate (even if our bodies mistakenly believe, contrary to all evidence, that we might be able to do this with a member of the same sex, or someone who cannot reproduce). This is a very complicated set of subconscious cues, emotional entanglement, and potential health risk.
Our need for affection, on the other hand, is also hard-wired, but has a different goal. When we are touched by members of our community in a way that we like, our brains release oxytocin, serotonin, and norepinephrine as a reward for finding safety.
That’s right — being touched consensually is a signal to our brains that we are in a safe environment.
That is why physical relaxation, emotional release, and even intellectual revelations can come to us in the healing space of being touched in a way that feels good by a person we trust.
Communicating exactly what we want and don’t want is the only barrier between us and these delicious neurotransmitters, and learning how to do this can up our chances of not only feeling good, but fostering whole communities that can sustainably provide its members with this kind of loving affection and safety.
I am so pleased that my work can empower others to understand themselves better, be satiated with platonic affection, and better communicate their desires (as well as gracefully accept rejection).